The Malik Report
Ahead of locker room clean-out day, and as I watch the USA-Finland World Championship game on NBCSN, I have five very disparate articles for you to peruse ahead of locker room clean-out day.
First, if you were unaware, the Wings have officially assigned Alexey Marchenko to the Grand Rapids Griffins ahead of tomorrow's 4th game of the Marlies-Griffins series:
Second, the Free Press's Helene St. James has an update on Johan Franzen's status from WIngs GM Ken Holland, and it's...concerning:
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson wrote quite the missive explaining how Mike Babcock's connections to the Edmonton Oilers' management, along with the whole, "Oilers winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes" factor, will bring Babcock to Edmonton, and the Edmonton Journal's David Staples has more on that topic;
Sportsnet's Damien Cox is convinced that Babcock's headed to Philadelphia, even though Ed Snider meddles in his team's personnel decisions; our friends from Buffalo keep reminding us that Sabres GM Tim Murray worked with Babcock in Anaheim, and that Jack Eichel and the Sabres' prospects aren't chopped liver; USA Today's Kevin Allen's expanded the, "Might want to hire Babcock" field to 8 teams, and some of our friends from Toronto would be absolutely tickled pink if the Wings lost both Babcock and Jeff Blashill's services (fat chance), and the Associated Press's Noah Trister put the Wings' situation this way:
But simply being competitive in the early rounds of the playoffs isn't the expectation in Detroit. The Red Wings have developed good talent through their minor league system, but they've struggled of late to make any major additions via trades or free agency.
Now Babcock is a free agent, and Red Wings fans can do little but wait to see what he decides to do — as the offseason begins earlier than Detroit wanted.
The problem with that narrative, as Ken Holland might tell you, is that Mike Babcock's under contract with the Detroit Red Wings until 11:59 PM on June 30th, 2015, and until the clock hits July 1st, Detroit doesn't have to let any team speak with Babcock unless it chooses to give its permission.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Holland, however, hopes he doesn't need to interview anyone and that Babcock will return.
"We got a great relationship," Holland said. "I think he's done a fabulous job with the team. We want him back. I expressed that.
"Mike has been here 10 years. He knows our players, he knows how we operate, knows the owner, knows how passionate the fan base is, knows we got a new rink coming. I think those are all advantages."
Holland is not concerned that players might tune-out the hard-driving Babcock.
"Other than 5-6 players, most of these players Mike has coached for three years or less," Holland said. "They respect the coach, respond to the coach, work hard for the coach."
Update: Also, from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
"He’s in the driver’s seat,” Holland said. “He’s one of the top coaches in the game, if not the top coach and he’s in the prime of his career. Our hope is that Mike wants to stay,” Holland continued. “He’s positioned himself to have the option to explore.”
from Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News,
Consistency eluded them.
The Red Wings were capable of outplaying better teams. But sometimes, as in Games 4 and 7 against the Lightning, they would lose, regardless.
They took a ton of penalties, a worrisome development utterly uncharacteristic of "Red Wings hockey."
Their developing defensemen are not yet capable of providing enough defense or offense from the back end to take them to the conference semifinals, let alone the Stanley Cup.
Their need for another goal scorer is perennial, and rarely more obvious than in Game 7 against the Lightning.
A new sniper is evermore necessary, now, because of Johan Franzen's concussions, Erik Cole's heartbreaking spinal injury, the major disappointment of Stephen Weiss, the preseason retirement of Daniel Alfredsson and the aging of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
I don't want to post another article about the coach until the coach makes his end-of-season remarks tomorrow, but I sure as *#$%@& agree with Henrik Zetterberg's comment to MLive's Ansar Khan about where the Wings are at in the rebuliding/reloading-on-the-fly process:
"The rebuilding that everyone talks about that all the teams go through, we're doing it," Zetterberg said. "We see guys that come in like Sheahan, Nyquist, Tatar. They took big steps this year. They're not just young players anymore that just show up once in a while. They were solid all year. We have some good things that we can build around. We just have to make some key decisions."
Khan continues, discussing Babcock's situation and his end-of-playoff remarks vs. Zetterberg's (he's tired of one-and-done playoff outings just like the rest of us), but if I may be particularly blunt:
This story is making the rounds, and I don't want to report it but I'm going to...But I'm going to phrase this simply: "Red Wings nation" is a big family, and we are generally an incredibly inclusive group, despite our cliques. Generally speaking, if you love the Wings, you're welcome here.
If you're an asshat like this lady, however, as reported by the Tampa Tribune, you're not welcome in our family:
A Detroit Red Wings fan set fire to a huge Tampa Bay Lightning flag as it was passed over the sold-out crowd at Wednesday night’s decisive NHL playoff game at Amalie Arena.
Lena Sinishtaj, 35, off Sterling Heights, Michigan, was booked on a charge of first-degree arson of an occupied structure. She was being held without bond.
About 200 people in Section 130 were under the 20-by-30-foot flag during a pregame show when Sinishtaj held a lit lighter to it, authorities said. The fire caused a small burn to the flag, authorities said.
Tampa police were notified by arena security and arrested Sinishtaj at 7:45 p.m., just after the game began.
No injuries were reported.
I generally try to not discuss the Red Wings players' futures until after locker room clean-out day, and given that Bob McKenzie's article seems to indicate that Babcock will resolve questions about his future tomorrow, it appears that we'll know whether the coach returns sooner than later...
But as I look at the decisions the Wings have to make regarding restricted free agents-to-be Joakim Andersson, Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco and Landon Ferraro, I look at the all-but-certain-to-be-gone unrestricteds in Daniel Cleary, Marek Zidlicky, Erik Cole and Jonas Gustavsson, and I recall that the Wings will probably be working with a "flat cap"...
To me, the best answers to the Wings' "questions" go like this:
Kerry Fraser's drawn the ire of many Wings fans for his breakdowns of Red Wings-related plays of late, and those of you who believe that Alex Killorn interfered with Kyle Quincey en route to the Lightning's 1-0 goal last night aren't going to be thrilled with Fraser's take on that play, in his latest "C'Mon Ref" column:
As the two players came to the the end boards, Quincey lost the battle for the puck and Killorn found his stick pinned in front of Quincey's body against the end boards. Killorn pulled back on Quincey with his right hand, more in an effort to create puck separation and to extract his stick than to haul the Red Wings player down as you suggested, Jason.
The next part of the play is key, in my mind, to eliminate the potential question of interference by Killorn. Having lost the battle for the puck, Quincey 'chicken-Winged' Killorn's stick with a right-arm clamp and proceeded to roll to the ice, either through a loss of balance or quite possibly to contain or eliminate the Tampa player hoping that support would soon arrive. Killorn's body position and visual focus remained on the puck but fell on top of Quincey as a result of the Detroit defenceman's stick-lock and body contact the Tampa player received on his back from Luke Glendening.
Killorn got up to one knee in an effort to rejoin the play but decided to keep his head down behind the net as he saw a shot from Braydon Coburn was imminent. Quincey, on the other hand, demonstrated no urgency or effort to remain on his feet and rejoin the play. Even after the puck entered the net, Killorn can be seen yanking hard to extract his stick from the body and grasp of Quincey.
I think that Fraser likes taunting Wings fans, but that's just my theory...
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose posited this last night...
Wings general manager Ken Holland said that Marchenko is the only player who will return to Grand Rapids to play with the Griffins in the American Hockey League playoffs. The Griffins trail the Toronto Marlies 2-1 in their best-of-five first-round series. Game 4 is Saturday at Van Andel Arena. Mrazek and Tomas Jurco are eligible to go down, however, Mrazek will shut it down for the summer while Jurco is likely head to the World Championships in the Czech Republic. … Ferraro will not return to GR. He would have to clear waivers and the Red Wings are not willing to expose him.
1. Hockeysverige's Mans Karlsson reports that Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall won't play for Sweden at the Worlds in Prague, and Jonathan Ericsson won't play because he's injured. There's no news about Gustav Nyquist yet, and Expressen is reporting that everybody of consequence but Nyquist is dealing with some sort of injury;
2. Sovsport's Dmitry Ponomarenko reports that Pavel Datsyuk's got sore ribs, and will decide whether to play for Russia on Friday;
3. Hockejportal's reporting that Tomas Tatar wants to play for Slovakia if he's cleared medically, and Jurco is indeed planning on joining the Slovaks' cause;
4. I can't find any news about Jakub Kindl joining the Czechs, but he's not coach Vladimir Ruzicka's favorite player, and Marek Zidlicky's obviously concussed;
5. We'll find out about Danny DeKeyser and Jimmy Howard's statuses tomorrow, but Justin Abdelkader has a broken hand, so he's not going to be playing for Team USA.
Update: From the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Well I don't know what to make of this, because I assumed that Mike Babcock and the Wings were already going to talk to Ken Holland on Friday as part of the team's locker room clean-out day...Anyway, from TSN:
According to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock is expected to meet with general manager Ken Holland on Friday.
Saying there is no timeline on his future, Babcock will talk with his family today but understands the amount of attention surrounding his current contract status.
Should the Red Wings' AHL affiliate extend their playoff series with the Toronto Marlies on Saturday, he plans on attending Game 5 on Sunday in Grand Rapids.
Babcock's contract expires on June 30 at which point he could sign with any NHL team.
I'm not going to post all the redundant Babcock crap out there--to use his term--but this is worth posting because it's the only time I've seen someone speak to Babcock and get a response in a loooong time.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.